Mark Vennis & Different Place – Cut Me Loose [Interview]

Describe your sound in 3 words

Roots, Rock, Reggae

You blend different genres in your music. Tell us a few things about your song Cut Me Loose and your creative process in general

I’m a massive fan of jazz, punk rock, hip hop, blues and of course reggae. The new album has a big reggae vibe, and in Cut me Loose I really embraced Brit reggae – particularly UB40 and that melding of punk and reggae that bands like the Clash and the Ruts did. There is a melodic simplicity to reggae music that I love, and that combination of bass and drums and melody is one of the best things in the world. In a kind of wonky way I was channelling the spirit of Gregory Isaacs and lovers rock, although my voice is much more of a bark than a lilt!

I write only on an acoustic guitar, so if it doesn’t work in that bare format then probably the song doesn’t work at all and its back to the starting blocks. The songs tend to be lyric led in that the melody comes from the lyrics and that seems to be the most important thing. I muck around on the guitar and sometimes I have lyrics ready to go, sometimes they come as I play, sometimes they are in old notebooks, sometimes I just have a title (which are very important). I basically play around with dozens of songs at a time. Sometimes it’s like a jigsaw puzzle where you just need that last piece that can take months to find!

Tell us one reggae song you wish you had composed yourselves

That is really difficult – but I would say So Much Trouble in the World by Bob Marley or Forces of Victory by Linton Kwesi Johnson. Sorry that’s two!

Do you prefer writing music in the studio or performing live?

Both are great. But live probably has the edge energy wise. And what would be your dream performance venue? Brixton Academy – I use to live very close to it and saw loads of brilliant bands there.

What would you change in the music industry?

I think it is really difficult for talented kids who don’t have money to carve their way in the industry at the moment. There does seem to be a lot of of posh kids with nothing to say around currently. Part of the problem is the streaming model where payment terms are not fair and given the lack of live gigs (because of Covid) it is very hard for young acts to make ends meet.

What was the best film you have watched during the quarantine?

A film called Rocks about a young teenage girl who has to look after her little brother. Sounds grim but is really uplifting.

One last thing we should know about you?

I am anti-racist, anti-fascist & pro-creative and music is a powerful tool to bring us together.

Thank you!

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